Spartacus (died 71 BC), Roman slave and gladiator,
born in Thrace. He is thought to have been a deserter
from the Roman army, and he was sold as a slave to a
trainer of gladiators at Capua. In 73 BC he escaped
with other runaway gladiators and took refuge on Mount
Vesuvius, where he was joined by large numbers of
escaped slaves. As leader of the historic insurrection
of Roman slaves known as the Third Servile War, or
Gladiators’ War, he defeated two Roman armies, and his
forces overran southern Italy. In 72 BC he defeated
three more Roman armies and reached Cisalpine Gaul,
where he planned to disperse his followers to their
homes. They decided to remain in Italy for the sake of
plunder, and Spartacus marched south again. In 71 BC
the Roman commander Marcus Licinius Crassus forced
Spartacus and his followers into the narrow peninsula
of Rhegium (now Reggio di Calabria), from which,
however, they escaped through the Roman lines. Crassus
then pursued Spartacus to Lucania, where the rebel
army was destroyed and Spartacus was killed in battle.

Upon his death the insurrection came to an end, and
the captured rebels were crucified. A few who escaped
to the north were killed by Pompey the Great, who was

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